USA, 1998, 93 min.
East Coast Premiere at the Hamptons Film Festival, October 24, 1999
by Barbara Kent
Who knew that Nashville had an arts underground? Outrageous indie film EXISTO is a radical musical-comedy out of Nashville that fights the good fight. Existo, a guerrilla performance artist and leader of an indiscriminate assortment of social-misfit artists and dissident heretics, combats the Fundamentalist Christian Right, now in political power. Their righteous leader, megalomaniac televangelist Armand Glasscock, played with icy vacuity by Mike Montgomery, has outlawed art. Glasscock appropriates the airwaves and spews aphorisms and "news" 24/7, assuring the public that through prayer, heís ìdiverted an asteroid from certain collision with our planet.î Disgusted with Glasscockís oppression, the Leftist art community appeals to their former leader and fellow artist Existo, to return and lead the rebellion.
The resistance is headquartered in the SEWER, an underground performance nightclub owned by the languorous Cheshire-catty drag-queen Colette, camped UpToHere by Gailard Sartain. Existo, legendary performance artist psychotically portrayed by Bruce Arntson, comes out of exile imposed by the political climate, and returns to the SEWER bouncing on a soft, glowing white sphere. Each empty click of the .38 he jams into his temple as he bounces elicits a "Fuckin' A" of indignation from his lips. After the third rhythmic epithet, the audience hurls the first salvo by uttering the battle cry with him, "Fuckin' A!"
Existo and his omnipotent girlfriend Maxine (Jackie
Welch), strategicallydeploy the assault on family values, the soul of the Christian Right.
"Until all forms of art are subsidized...Until the workers run the factories...Until
condoms are dispensed with crayons...Until every flag comes with its own match...Until
the sacred school prayer is replaced with a minute of angst and foreboding...I will
cry." weeps Existo in his act. Inspired by Existo's passion, the band of insurrectionist
artists storm the streets flagrantly committing illicit art in public. The campaign
is wildly victorious and a newscast over the ubiquitous state-controlled television
warns viewers "If you have to go out and you see art, do not--I repeat, do not--try
to interpret it yourself. Call 911 and let the Art Squad defuse it!"
Biting satire that is particularly close to our hearts and a flat out down and dirty rock and roll score by the film's co-writer and star, Bruce Arntson equip EXISTO with enough heat to be both disgracefully entertaining and socially competent. Jim Mayís murky cinematography evokes the climate of Bladerunner or Delicatessan , a frightening and uncomfortably real "future."
An outstanding cast entirely from Nashville includes Jenny Littleton as Penelope, a fluff-femme sent to seduce Existo to the dark side; Mark Cabus as Rupen,the ambisexual Judas; Gailard Sartain as Colette the sensual proprietor of the SEWER
Shot in 20 days for next to nothing, Existo's director, Coke Sams says "We're first and foremost entertainers, so we focused on that, while at the same time trying to reinvigorate the left, topple the powers that be and save the world--all with one eccentric musical." Directed and co-written by Coke Sams; Produced by Peter Kurland and Clarke Gallivan; co-written by and starring Bruce Arntson.
Existo bounces into town on a friendly
penis-shaped pogo stick on December 9 at the Tribeca Cinema. Seating is limited and
you do not want to miss it.
(c) Bkent, 1999
Baby Sings the Blues
by Barbara Kent
Johnny Lang is clearly posessed--whether by demons, a god, the Muse or the spirit of some long deceased blues genius is less clear. Head thrown back, white throat exposed, a keening wail and a guitar chord simultaneously escape his body. This hot manchild gave it up and SOME were moved to tears. Where does an 18 year old boy get the right to make middle aged women weep?
Langís guitar was lethal as he battled the blues with his accompaniest head to head. His smoky voice belies his age as he rips out the lyrics to Angel of Mercy, and Breakin Me transcends heart break.
Born in Fargo, North Dakota on January 29, 1981, Jonny Lang has spent that short time making a BIG name for himself. His A&M record debut Lie To Me in 1997 catapulted the youth into the international spotlight. Newsweek named Lang the youngest member of the ìCentury Club,î the 100 Americans whose "creativity or talent or brains or leadership will make a difference in the years ahead.î
In 1998 when the Los Angeles Times asked BB King to name the two most promising new blues players, King said, "Jonny Lang's 16, so he's got youth and talent with it. When I was young, I didn't play like I do today. So these kids are starting at the height I've reached. Think what they might do over time. And even if they didn't add anything else, they've got still added youth. So I'm proud of them and grateful." Lang fulfilled a dream when given the opportunity to play with B.B.
He has opened for Jeff Beck, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones and had his
own hour long special for the Disney channel. In July of this year, Lang peformed for President Clinton and the First Lady and played side by side with legendary bluesman B.B. King for the "Tradition and Legends of the Blues Performance," staged on the South Lawn at the White House. Lang presented President and Mrs. Clinton with an autographed Fender guitar. Taped by PBS the event will be broadcast on television in November. Lang was invited to perform at Mick Jagger's 56th birthday at the Stones estate in the South of France where Lang jammed with Jagger and guests Bono, Elton John, and Ron Wood.
Johnny Lang is the perfect opening act for Jeff Beck. More ìtechno-Beckî than the soulful-Beck of the past, his undiminished precision was a powerful counterpoint to Langís emotional contribution. Jennifer Batten his guitar accompaniest floated like a beautiful angel but kept a respectful distance from the Master. Her deft performance was as testosterone driven as Beckís-- explosive and hard-biting. The musical mix was dizzying, a heady concoction of techno, blues and rock, with the razor edge of maturity on Becksí side.
Simply put, Lang played for the chicks, and Beck played for the dudes. I have heard a lot of Beck in my life. I hope to live long enough to hear as much of Lang.
http://misstique.simplenet.com/jonny.htm This one is Johnny Lang only fairly decent site, lots of pictures and lots of links.
http://www.sonicnet.com Is one of my favorite spots...has both artists and just about anyone else you can think of with video, audio, and plenty of stills.
by Barbara Kent
NYC-November 10, 2000
The Screening Room/ 54 Varick Street/ Tribeca
"Life is often meaningless, but good fiction never is..."
Under the hot eye of the Mojave sun the peeling paint and faded dreams of legal prostitution are embarassingly revealed in ANGEL'S LADIES, a sympathetic film-study of the flesh industry.
Mack and Angel Moore, previously undertakers in Oregon bought a brothel in Beatty, Nevada several years ago. Ironically, they are aged, (Mack was 70 and Angel 55 when they bought the ranch) Christian Fundamentalist Swingers, who feel that the "girls" who work for them are like their "children."
The "children" don't feel strong family ties however, and like ungrateful children, complain about "daddy's" advances, car privileges, money, and mommy making a little extra cash by turning the occasional trick on the side.
The strength of thise film is not witty dialogue or cohesive story line, but it's existentialism and evocative, surreal images. The camera is the real star as it painfully captures fragile details, almost by accident. Angel's tears flow into the desert unchecked and at first we are compassionate, and then confused -- understandable that she weeps for her dead sons, but as many tears for a horny trick with no money?
ANGEL'S LADIES is a fine, Zen-like docrumentary. Watch it as the stream of consciousness it is, but have no expectations. The forgiving desert offers sanctuary to all, and we are merely voyeurs peeking through our fingers.
Playing through November 16, show time 6:45 pm and 10:45 pm.
New York Times:
The Village Voice:
by Amy Taubin
Sharing the Screening Room's documentary slot is the lighter-weight Angel's Ladies,
Doug Lindeman's portrait of a mom-and-pop whorehouse in Beatty, Nevada, where
prostitution has been legal for long enough to make the city planning commission
declare it necessary for the economy and the health of its citizens.
When Mack Moore, a 70-year-old cemetery honcho, and Angel, his second wife, got
tired of carrying the weight of their past lives, they relocated from rainy Oregon to
sunny Nevada. There, they bought Fran's Star Ranch, a small brothel located between
Death Valley and the Nuclear Weapons Testing Range, and renamed it Angel's
Ladies. Religious fundamentalists, the Moores viewed their new business as not very
different from their old one: Both enabled them "to service human needs."
With their Christian rationales, Mack and Angel seem a bit delusional. Not so the
three prostitutes who work for them: ranch hand and nature girl Kevin, middle-class
career woman Linda, and Melody, the most politically sophisticated, who's saving her
money so she won't be "one man away from homelessness." There's more tell than
show in the documentary, which eventually takes the form of an argument between
labor and management. The prostitutes fault Mack for trying to "date" his own girls
("I didn't want to give the money to my competitors," he counters) and Angel for
starting to turn tricks at age 55. But Angel believes she's merely "giving comfort" to
the elderly and disabled who would otherwise be turned away by choosy "independent
Crosscutting between the two sides, Lindeman gives everyone equal time. But
according to the head of the local health clinic, Angel's Ladies is doomed any way you
look at it. With prostitution legalized, big corporations are eating the small-time
For information on availability of the documentary "Angels Ladies" or
speakers, please contact
Douglas Lindeman at 1.323.936.6677, fax 1.323.936.7101,
or: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to FILM KITCHEN.com